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TBR News December 25, 2018

Dec 25 2018

The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Isaiah 40:3-8 

Washington, D.C. December 25, 2018: “Our beloved President, also known as Putin’s star performer on the world stage, has engendered all manner of disrespectful material now being sold through the Internet.

For example, a firm in Keene, New Hampshire has produced a heavily-illustrated book entitled ‘Fat Donald the Dinge Queen’ that is apparently selling very well. Some of the illustrations are vulgar, obscene and very entertaining.

Also entertaining is a firm in Elko, Nevada that has been selling toilet paper with depictions of the really ugly Sheldon Adelman and Trump on alternating squares.

And a firm in Florida is marketing a Russian-made clandestine tape called “Donald’s Golden Shower” that should be off-limits even to the people who sleep in bus depots at night.

Pascal said that if one wanted to destroy someone, the best course was to ridicule him. This is true but what can one do if, as in the case of Donald Trump, God has beaten one to it?”

 

The Table of Contents

  • Trump ‘plunging us into chaos’, Democrats say, as markets tank and shutdown persists
  • Will 2019 be the year of the crash?
  • Japan’s Nikkei index slides amid US uncertainty
  • Commentary: From stocks to politics, Harold Evans on what to expect in 2019
  • Redondo Beach sea-borne fatal virus attacks
  • The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations
  • America’s Far Right Gangs supported by the sale of fake Nazi war relics
  • Pearl Harbor: A retrospective

 

Trump ‘plunging us into chaos’, Democrats say, as markets tank and shutdown persists

  • Trump attacks Federal Reserve and markets suffer steep drops
  • Schumer and Pelosi: Trump is waging a ‘personal war’ on Fed

December 24, 2018

by Victoria Bekiempis in Berkeley and agencies

The Guardian

Top Democrats have accused Donald Trump of “plunging the country into chaos” as top officials met to discuss a growing rout in stock markets caused in part by the president’s persistent attacks on the Federal Reserve and a government shutdown.

“It’s Christmas Eve and President Trump is plunging the country into chaos,” the two top Democrats in Congress, House speaker nominee Nancy Pelosi and Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, wrote in a joint statement on Monday.

“The stock market is tanking and the president is waging a personal war on the Federal Reserve – after he just fired the Secretary of Defense.”

Trump criticized the Federal Reserve on Monday, describing it as the “only problem” for the US economy, even as top officials convened the “plunge protection team” forged after the 1987 crash to discuss the growing rout in stock markets.

The crisis call on Monday between US financial regulators and the US treasury department failed to assure markets, and stocks fell again amid concern about slowing economic growth, the continuing government shutdown, and reports that Trump had discussed firing Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell.

The Dow Jones plummeted 653 points in a shortened trading day on Monday, capping its worst week in a decade and reportedly marking its “worst day of Christmas Eve trading ever”. Investors appeared increasingly skittish.

The S&P 500 also dropped 2.7%, leaving it on pace for its biggest percentage decline in December since the Great Depression and indicating a move to a bear market, according to CNBC.

In a tweet that did nothing to ease market concerns about the Fed’s cherished independence, Trump laid the blame for economic headwinds firmly at the feet of the central bank.

“The only problem our economy has is the Fed. They don’t have a feel for the market,” Trump said on Twitter. “The Fed is like a powerful golfer who can’t score because he has no touch – he can’t putt!”

Trump has frequently criticized the Fed’s raising of interest rates this year and has gone after Powell several times, telling Reuters in August he was “not thrilled” with his own appointee. The Fed increased rates again last week.

The drops came despite US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin’s attempts to calm wary investors over the weekend.

Mnuchin said on Sunday that he had called CEOs from the nation’s six largest banks – Bank of America, Citi, Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Morgan Stanley and Wells Fargo.

Mnuchin said these banks had promised him that they had enough money on hand, despite the fact that concerns over liquidity did not appear to have previously shaken the market.

Prior to these Tweets, Mnuchin sought to dispel reports that Trump wanted to axe Powell over the Fed’s decision to raise interest rates.

Trump nevertheless railed against the Federal Reserve on Monday.

Traders seemed to react to the sudden resignations of defense secretary James Mattis and anti-Isis coalition leader Brett McGurk over Trump’s snap decision to pull US troops from Syria last week. Trump reportedly forced Mattis to step down two months early, apparently angry that Mattis openly criticized his policies

The partial government shutdown went into effect at midnight on Friday after Donald Trump’s demands for border wall funding left lawmakers in a stalemate.

Trump tweeted on Monday that he was “all alone (poor me) in the White House waiting for the Democrats” to make a deal.

“Instead of bringing certainty into people’s lives, he’s continuing the Trump Shutdown just to please rightwing radio and TV hosts,” Schumer and Pelosi said in their joint statement, arguing that it was unclear what exactly what the president was trying to get out of the shutdown.

“Different people from the same White House are saying different things about what the president would accept or not accept to end his Trump shutdown, making it impossible to know where they stand at any given moment,” they said. “The president wanted the shutdown, but he seems not to know how to get himself out of it.”

House and Senate members could not broker a deal prior to Congress’s adjournment for the holiday and prior to this deadlock, however, and Trump warned of a “very long shutdown”.

While Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell appeared open to reconvening before the session resumes Thursday if a deal were brokered, House majority whip Steve Scalise’s staff told ABC News a vote wouldn’t take place before Thursday.

Mick Mulvaney, Trump’s new acting White House chief of staff, also painted a bleak picture during an appearance on Fox News Sunday.

Trump won’t step back from his “fight over border security,” Mulvaney said.

“I don’t think things are going to move very quickly,” he said. “There’s a chance this could go into the next Congress.”

More than 420,000 federal employees will work without getting paid during the partial shutdown.

 

Will 2019 be the year of the crash?

An exciting year is behind us in terms of economic developments. And the New Year won’t be dull either. But will we finally see the end of the long upswing? There’s good reason to believe so,

December 25, 2018

Henrik Böhme (tr)

DW

Crash prophets tend to have it easy. Year in, year out they have worst-case scenarios in store for us. And should the worst really happen they rejoice, saying “we told you so all along.” Those prophets don’t tire of touring the country, spreading fear, selling their books or touting their own funds as a form of life insurance.

When you look at the current state the global economy is in, one might indeed believe that 2019 will be the year of the crash. There are unresolved problems everywhere. There’s the Brexit chaos, Italy’s populists, the US-China trade conflict and a lot more. The odd ray of hope is overshadowed by bad news elsewhere.

I don’t even want to think about what another recession in Europe would be like. The guardians of the euro at the European Central Bank (ECB) have shot their bolt and sit in Mario Draghi’s trap of a zero-interest policy. The bank president’s inaction has prepared the ground for the next big crisis.

Harbingers of a downturn

It’s somehow alarming that the world’s largest asset management firm, BlackRock, is warning it clients against investing in European stocks, saying the risks of doing so are too high and that the bullish period is most likely over on the Continent. There’s also cause for concern, seeing investors increasingly putting resources into US sovereign bonds in pursuit of a safe yield.

And it’s a warning signal when yields on longer-term bonds are lower than those on bonds with a shorter maturity. Such an inverse yield curve has more often than not served as a harbinger of a downturn.

But what should worry us most is the huge amount of debt the world has accumulated. Debt levels have risen by 42 percent since 2007 when the last global financial crisis started, and today we’re talking about the incredible sum of $237 trillion (€208 trillion).

Sure, central banks have been flooding markets with cheap money, meaning that borrowed money has been used to build homes or buy shares. Wall Street investors alone owe a total of $670 billion while speculating with borrowed money. It’s a time bomb!

Today’s debt levels are higher than those before the global financial crisis, amounting to 225 percent of global GDP (according to the IMF) or 245 percent (according to the Bank for International Settlements). By the way, the eurozone stipulates its members must not let their debt exceed 60 percent of GDP. Global debt is rising faster than growth.

This means that the economic upswing we’ve seen in the past years has entirely been achieved on credit.

Somebody’s got to pay the bill

When the bubble bursts (and it will), those who’ve feathered their own nest will be OK. The rest of us will have to fasten our seat belts. One thing is for sure — highly indebted nations will no longer be able to resort to multibillion-dollar rescue packages. And the ECB’s Mario Draghi cannot lower the lender’s interest rates to crank up the economy.

There’s a storm brewing, and the shelters are shaky. In the US, the impact of Donald Trump’s tax breaks will peter out over time, and Europe will also feel the pinch. Americans will have to pay a high price for accumulating so much debt. And the Europeans will have to pay for being blinded by the economic upswing in recent years.

So, will the big crash come in 2019 — and if so, on which day of the week? Ask the crash prophets. They can tell you exactly when it’s going to happen.

 

Japan’s Nikkei index slides amid US uncertainty

December 25, 2018

BBC News

Japan’s main stock market index has plunged, reflecting traders’ worries following a slide on Wall Street.

The Nikkei closed down 5% on Tuesday, its worst finish since April 2017. Indexes in Shanghai, Bangkok and Taiwan also fell.

Investors have been concerned about President Trump’s dispute with the US central bank chief and another government shutdown.

US stocks had their worst Christmas Eve on record.

The Dow Jones index of 30 leading companies fell more than 650 points on Monday, and is on track for its worst December since 1931, during the Great Depression.

Many financial markets in Asia, Europe and North America are closed on Tuesday for Christmas.

In China, the Shanghai composite index fell more than 2% on Tuesday morning.

What triggered the falls?

The Asian markets are believed to be largely reacting to movement in the US and an ensuing shares sell-off by concerned investors.

US-China trade tensions are a factor, as well as reports that President Donald Trump has discussed firing the chairman of the US central bank, Jerome Powell

The US government has also entered partial shutdown, after Congress refused to fund President Trump’s planned US-Mexico border wall.

What has Trump said?

On Monday, President Trump lashed out at the Federal Reserve, the US central bank, as the stock market plunged.

The president said the Fed was “the only problem” of the US economy.

  • Five big things from Trump’s head-spinning week
  • US shutdown could stretch into new year

Mr Trump continually boasted about Wall Street’s steep climb during the first year of his presidency, but has sought to deflect blame since markets hit a rough patch in 2018.

Soothed or spooked?

On Sunday US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin took the unusual step of calling the chief executives of America’s six largest banks in a bid to soothe market jitters.

Afterwards, the Treasury shared a statement about Mr Mnuchin’s phone call, confirming that the banks’ chief executives had “ample liquidity available for lending to consumer, business markets, and all other market operations”.

“The markets continue to function properly,” it added

Analysts warned the unexpected statement could make investors nervous.

On Monday, Mr Mnuchin called top market regulators and officials from the US central bank to allay fears.

  • US stocks suffer worst week in a decade

Not a very merry Christmas

Analysis by Samira Hussain, business reporter, BBC News, New York

It is rare for a US treasury secretary to make public his discussions with American financial institutions. But that is exactly what Mr Mnuchin did.

He was attempting to ease financial markets but Monday’s swoon showed he did the opposite.

So then President Trump weighed in by tweet and renewed his criticism of the Federal Reserve. That did not have the desired effect either. Instead of the typical Santa Rally, we saw US investors flee stocks for safety.

Not exactly the Christmas cheer the White House was hoping for.

What does this mean for 2019? A lot will depend on what happens in Washington: government shutdown, simmering trade tensions and the president’s tweets.

One thing has been made very clear: if the White House wants to calm nervous investors, it’s going to need to get much better at its messaging.

 

Commentary: From stocks to politics, Harold Evans on what to expect in 2019

December 24, 2018

by Harold Evans

Reuters

We have a year and seven fretful months before the Democratic Party’s national convention decides its nominee for president in July 2020. In the last race, the Republicans fielded 17 major candidates. The smart money was on Florida Governor Jeb Bush. He dropped out in February 2016, too choked up to mention Donald Trump, who emerged as the clear nominee that May. Tricky business, this forecasting, but here’s a pick of some air-worthy kites.

WILL A SEAL DEBATE A SHARK?

The first question, as important as whether candidates have eaten pork belly in Iowa, is how they match up on a debate stage with Trump. The Democrats need someone who can command him to back off, or freeze him with a smile when he repeats the “Jaws” trick of circling his opponent, as he did with the much shorter Hillary Clinton while she took her turn.

So in 2019, look for Retired Admiral William McRaven. He’s not running as of yet, but he has a memoir coming out in May that’s going to remind everyone what a hero he is. The SEAL commander surely has the best resumé entry on the planet: he planned and commanded the raid that killed Osama bin Laden, although according to Trump it would have happened a “lot sooner if he’d been in charge.” Sure.

In person the brave, brainy and eloquent former University of Texas System chancellor is cool enough to repel any fusillade from a president who doesn’t let a clean fact stand in the way of a crude insult. Trump tested the customary restraint of military brass when, seemingly out of sheer cussed pique, he stripped former CIA Director John Brennan of his security clearance. Remove mine, too, said McRaven, addressing the president in the Washington Post: “Through your actions, you have embarrassed us in the eyes of our children, humiliated us on the world stage and, worst of all, divided us as a nation.”

His steadfast character and impeccable national chops may be just what Americans want after the traumatic resignation of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

Democratic Congressman Adam Schiff of California is the rising star who could step in as the Atticus Finch candidate. Never has there been a more timely need for an unequivocal exponent of justice. Schiff will come into his own in election year as chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, rational and unblinking in his analysis of the legal swamp that’s immersed the president in at least half a dozen investigations. As Schiff puts it in the New Yorker, “Trump has created a constituency for people who are not running around with their hair on fire.”

Howard Schultz is the man who made you addicted to your Caffé Americano or cold foam cappuccino. He is big and brash enough not to be fazed by Trump at full steam. As the former CEO of Starbucks, he’s a genius marketer and a genuine job creator — 277,000 at last count — and the release of a new book in February will be the likely opening shot of his presidential campaign.

Oprah Winfrey has said she’s not running, but her Nov. 1 performance on the stump for Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams was so emotionally powerful it showed she could be a female Obama on steroids. The “Draft Oprah” movement could be too deafening for her to resist.

WHAT CLIMATE CHANGE?

The World Meteorological Organization forecasters are ahead of us in giving names to hurricanes and storms that will arrive in 2019. Start with Andrea, who may be a friendly type, and end with Wendy and who-knows-what. Climate change deniers will observe the usual rule: the more extreme the weather, the more quickly they will change the subject. No matter that dried-out California saw its deadliest and most destructive fire season on record this year, killing at least 86 people, burning nearly 1.9 million acres and reducing a town of 26,000 to ash. Nor that hurricanes Florence and Michael pounded the East Coast, killing scores and causing $33 billion in damages.

Public opinion has veered toward acceptance of the underlying science. In August, a scientific paper warning that earth was barreling toward a permanent “hothouse” state went viral, notching an unprecedented 270,000 downloads in just days. In the following months, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and U.S. government published their most dire climate assessments to date, their warnings underscored by deadly heat waves and headline-grabbing temperature records. Meantime, global carbon emissions picked up like a “speeding freight train” after a three-year plateau.

But short of an early flood at Trump’s Mar-a-Largo resort, crusaders for action in 2019 and beyond will have to challenge the entrenched power of fossil fuel companies if they ever want to move the needle. Global warming denial did not spring into being organically; it was conceived of and nurtured by the extractive industries who block or slow change to stay in business.

As investigations by the Los Angeles Times and others have revealed, Exxon privately acknowledged a “general scientific agreement” on anthropogenic climate change as far back as the 1970s but resolved to muddy the waters, lest the revelations threaten its business model. It found eager allies in the Republican Party. Frank Luntz, a consultant for George W. Bush, put it bluntly in a private memo: “Should the public come to believe that the scientific issues are settled, their views about global warming will change accordingly. Therefore, you need to continue to make the lack of scientific certainty a primary issue in the debate.”

All this supposed uncertainty has made an impression on Trump. His synthesis of the science of climate change boils down to this: “I believe there is weather. I believe there’s change and I believe it goes up and it goes down, and it goes up again. And it changes depending on years and centuries, but I am not a believer and we have much bigger problems.”

UNFRIENDING FACEBOOK

Facebook has a brilliant business model for making billions, but it will go through 2019 reaping the whirlwind of the behavior of Mark Zuckerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. The continuous record exposed since June 2014, right to the edge of 2019, is sneaky exploitations of privacy; selling advertising to Russian agents, who used it for their election meddling; and acting as a platform for the Myanmar military to incite violence against the country’s minority Rohingya Muslims. The company began more aggressive policing of its content only after journalists and human rights activists raised the alarm. Zuckerberg and Sandberg are reported to have ignored warning signs of Russian operations, and the company shamefully hired a Republican-linked public relations firm to do research on philanthropist George Soros after he attacked Facebook and Google as a “menace” to society. And as a climax to the record of greed and negligence, emails published by a British parliamentary committee in December showed that Facebook’s executives were, in the words of the New York Times’ Kevin Roose, “ruthless and unsparing in their ambition to collect more data from users, extract concessions from developers and stamp out possible competitors.”

In the United States, Congress is blindingly ignorant about how this sector of the economy works. The Europeans have shown more of a spine. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) this year gave EU citizens more control over what data is harvested from them, though the reform has been under-reported in the United States. Expect multimillion-dollar fines in 2019, but with the onus for compliance mostly on brands and advertisers, not social media sites.

Facebook has an impressive board, including the internet genius Mark Andreessen. Will they at last rouse themselves in 2019? Or wait until the regulators bite?

FUNNY MONEY

Remember the golfer who made a hole-in-one to collect a million-dollar prize in a charity golf event at the Trump National Golf Club? Except that he didn’t collect. He was stiffed out of the prize and settled for $158,000 to his chosen charity from the Trump Foundation. Cash from this same foundation was also used to buy items at charity auctions, including a football helmet signed by former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow ($12,000), a six-foot-tall portrait of Trump ($20,000) and a four-foot portrait of Trump ($10,000) that was hung at the Trump National Doral Miami.

These are fragments from the Trump Foundation’s litany of misdeeds, revealed by David A. Farenthold in the Washington Post. The New York Attorney General, Barbara Underwood, accused Trump of dipping into charity money for his political and personal interests, engaging in a “a shocking pattern of illegality.” Trump blasts that he is facing a “double standard of ‘justice,’” but Underwood’s successor, Letitia James, presses on into 2019 with the dissolution of the dodgy charity. Expect Trump and his children to be barred from serving on nonprofits, and several probes into Trump family dealings in New York.

AND THE STOCK MARKET?

After the roller-coaster year of 2018, investors will be preoccupied trying to look round corners.

A simpler way to certainty and avoiding a crick in the neck is to consult the great banker John Pierpont Morgan. You can’t get him on the phone – never could – but here is his advice, proved effective through innumerable crises:

Investor: “What will happen to the stock market?”

Mr. Morgan, reflectively, after a long pause: “It will fluctuate.”

About the Author

Sir Harold Evans is Editor at Large of Reuters. He was editor of The Sunday Times of London 1967-1981 and The Times 1981-2

 

Redondo Beach sea-borne fatal virus attacks

December 24, 2018

by Anetta Fong

Los Angeles Star

 

Since the beginning of December, Los Angeles County health authorities have been dealing with a growing number of mysterious deaths, all connected with the public beaches at Redondo Beach.

So far, the number of fatalities has risen to twenty two during the month of December and over thirty five are now recovering in local hospltals, according to medical and health authorities.

The cause of these deaths, which results in paralysis and cardiac arrests, apparently has been traced to a deadly virus found in seaweed lying just offshore and believed to be connected with warming water trends that are growing along Southern California beaches.

A significant number of dead fish, many gulls and at least ten seals found on the beaches are also believed to be the victims of the same virus.

University of California marine biologist, Dr. Marvin Harkoppelin believes he has narrowed the virus down to two possibilities but agrees with Federal health officials that infected seaweed is the probable source.

Suggestions that Southern California beaches be closed to the public are under consideration but various beachside community leaders are opposed to this on the grounds that further publicity could have a serious impact on valued tourism.

The CIA Confessions: The Crowley Conversations

December 25, 2018

by Dr. Peter Janney

On October 8th, 2000, Robert Trumbull Crowley, once a leader of the CIA’s Clandestine Operations Division, died in a Washington hospital of heart failure and the end effects of Alzheimer’s Disease. Before the late Assistant Director Crowley was cold, Joseph Trento, a writer of light-weight books on the CIA, descended on Crowley’s widow at her town house on Cathedral Hill Drive in Washington and hauled away over fifty boxes of Crowley’s CIA files.

Once Trento had his new find secure in his house in Front Royal, Virginia, he called a well-known Washington fix lawyer with the news of his success in securing what the CIA had always considered to be a potential major embarrassment.

Three months before, on July 20th of that year, retired Marine Corps colonel William R. Corson, and an associate of Crowley, died of emphysema and lung cancer at a hospital in Bethesda, Md.

After Corson’s death, Trento and the well-known Washington fix-lawyer went to Corson’s bank, got into his safe deposit box and removed a manuscript entitled ‘Zipper.’ This manuscript, which dealt with Crowley’s involvement in the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, vanished into a CIA burn-bag and the matter was considered to be closed forever.

The small group of CIA officials gathered at Trento’s house to search through the Crowley papers, looking for documents that must not become public. A few were found but, to their consternation, a significant number of files Crowley was known to have had in his possession had simply vanished.

When published material concerning the CIA’s actions against Kennedy became public in 2002, it was discovered to the CIA’s horror, that the missing documents had been sent by an increasingly erratic Crowley to another person and these missing papers included devastating material on the CIA’s activities in South East Asia to include drug running, money laundering and the maintenance of the notorious ‘Regional Interrogation Centers’ in Viet Nam and, worse still, the Zipper files proving the CIA’s active organization of the assassination of President John Kennedy..

A massive, preemptive disinformation campaign was readied, using government-friendly bloggers, CIA-paid “historians” and others, in the event that anything from this file ever surfaced. The best-laid plans often go astray and in this case, one of the compliant historians, a former government librarian who fancied himself a serious writer, began to tell his friends about the CIA plan to kill Kennedy and eventually, word of this began to leak out into the outside world.

The originals had vanished and an extensive search was conducted by the FBI and CIA operatives but without success. Crowley’s survivors, his aged wife and son, were interviewed extensively by the FBI and instructed to minimize any discussion of highly damaging CIA files that Crowley had, illegally, removed from Langley when he retired. Crowley had been a close friend of James Jesus Angleton, the CIA’s notorious head of Counterintelligence. When Angleton was sacked by DCI William Colby in December of 1974, Crowley and Angleton conspired to secretly remove Angleton’s most sensitive secret files out of the agency. Crowley did the same thing right before his own retirement, secretly removing thousands of pages of classified information that covered his entire agency career.

Known as “The Crow” within the agency, Robert T. Crowley joined the CIA at its inception and spent his entire career in the Directorate of Plans, also know as the “Department of Dirty Tricks,”: Crowley was one of the tallest man ever to work at the CIA. Born in 1924 and raised in Chicago, Crowley grew to six and a half feet when he entered the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in N.Y. as a cadet in 1943 in the class of 1946. He never graduated, having enlisted in the Army, serving in the Pacific during World War II. He retired from the Army Reserve in 1986 as a lieutenant colonel. According to a book he authored with his friend and colleague, William Corson, Crowley’s career included service in Military Intelligence and Naval Intelligence, before joining the CIA at its inception in 1947. His entire career at the agency was spent within the Directorate of Plans in covert operations. Before his retirement, Bob Crowley became assistant deputy director for operations, the second-in-command in the Clandestine Directorate of Operations.

Bob Crowley first contacted Gregory Douglas  in 1993  when he found out from John Costello that Douglas was about to publish his first book on Heinrich Mueller, the former head of the Gestapo who had become a secret, long-time asset to the CIA. Crowley contacted Douglas and they began a series of long and often very informative telephone conversations that lasted for four years. In 1996, Crowley told Douglas that he believed him to be the person that should ultimately tell Crowley’s story but only after Crowley’s death. Douglas, for his part, became so entranced with some of the material that Crowley began to share with him that he secretly began to record their conversations, later transcribing them word for word, planning to incorporate some, or all, of the material in later publications.

 

Conversation No. 8

Date: Sunday, April 14, 1996

Commenced:  3:24 PM CST

Concluded:  4:01 PM CST

GD: Hello?

RTC: Oh, hello, Gregory. I didn’t think you’d be calling today. Usually, you’re earlier.

GD: Went up to Madison. Always go up on the weekends. Borders book store has the best history section I’ve ever seen and there’s a good Chinese restaurant nearby. That’s my social life these days. Yourself?

RTC: Trying to keep busy. One of these days, I ought to get your creative opinion as to what to do about the Swiss. They’re right across the street from me and they keep using their microwave to send messages home and it’s been causing me trouble.

GD: Have you tried complaining to them?

RTC: Pointless. I tried lodging a complaint with DoS but no good there either. In the old days, a few words about this would have worked miracles but I’m out of harness and out of the picture. Gregory, a small piece of advice for you: Don’t get old.

GD: Can’t help it. I have an idea for you on the Swiss. You face them? What kind of building are they in?

RTC: It’s their embassy.

GD: Got a pencil?

RTC: Yes. Will a pen do?

GD: Yes, of course.

RTC: Well?

GD: Do you still have any connections with your tech section at Langley?

RTC: I think so. Why?

GD: There’s a wonderful little device called an audio oscillator. Do you want me to spell that?

RTC: I have it. Go on.

GD: It puts out sound waves. It’s easy to build if you know your business. Anyway, it’s in a smallish box…shoe box size…and you plug it in and point it at your target. It puts out sound that the human ear can’t hear but animals can. That’s not the point. I’m sure the Switzers don’t have poodles typing reports. Oh, and if your man is good enough, you can hit the frequency that causes involuntary bowel movements.

RTC: (Laughter) Now that’s something to consider.

GD: I thought you might enjoy that. Just imagine the entire Swiss embassy ankle deep in shit. Anyway, it makes the people on the other end nervous and irritable. They don’t know why but they feel depressed and very, very unhappy.

RTC: Go on. This is interesting.

GD: So the windows in the embassy will act as a sounding board and all the offices in the front of the building will be full of suicidal people or, if you’re lucky, filled with Swiss shit.

RTC: Can you build one of these for me?

GD: God no. I know nothing about electronics except how to plug them in. It’s not a state secret and very easy to build but I’m not your man on this one. I would……..you have windows facing them?

RTC: Oh, yes.

GD: Put it in a window, preferably opened, and plug it in. That’s all. Makes no noise at your end and your wife would never notice it. Just tell her it’s an air freshener or something.

RTC: No point in telling her anything. Can they detect anything over there?

GD: No unless they have budgies in every office. I mean this does work because I’ve tried it out. I once lived in an apartment and was friendly with the manager and his wife. They had a minority couple living there under section eight. Played their boom box all the time, never paid the rent on time and threatened the other neighbors. The police didn’t want to bother them so I suggested the solution. I had a friend at Radio Shack build an oscillator and since the apartments on both sides of the creeps were vacant because of the noise, I went into one, plugged the box in and put it right up against a connecting wall. And believe me, it did work. They moved out within a week. Jesus, what a mess they left behind. One or both of them used to shit in the shower stall, not to mention the fact that all the carpets had to be replaced and the walls patched and repainted. The manager was so happy he gave me six months of rent free on the condition I used my little toy to help him get rid of other obnoxious tenants. Anyway, I went into the apartment to see what it was like, being on the other end of the toy and believe me, it was something else, Robert. A feeling of anxiety coupled with severe depression…

RTC: No bowel movements?

GD: No but the smell in the place would have made me puke if I’d stayed there for another minute. Let me tell you, I wanted to get away from that place in the worst way and it was not the stench. No, the Swiss will not be happy campers once you turn the thing on. I would suggest that you turn it on about three times a day, at odd intervals and don’t leave it on all the time. They might get someone in to do a sweep and if they’re competent, they might be able to pick up the sonics.

RTC: Gregory, rather than my bothering the boys on this, could you get one for me? More than happy to pay for it.

GD: I’ll be happy to do it for free, Robert. It’ll take about three weeks. I’ll start tomorrow. I know at least one person who can build one of these for sure. I suppose if the Swiss found out about this, they might make trouble for you so I will work on this here. And keep you posted.

RTC: If this works, Gregory, I will be greatly in your debt.

GD: Can we talk about Kennedy?

RTC: Oh, I think we certainly can.

GD: That I appreciate. After I build your box for you, then we can discuss this?

RTC: As I said.

GD: Is there any paper on that subject? If I publish anything, the government stool pigeons will yammer that it’s all made up and they, personally, can’t believe a word of it. And consider the huge number of books on the subject. The thousands of writers will join in a chorus of denial. After all, I didn’t mention the man in the sewer, the man on the grassy knoll…

RTC: Ah, but there was a man on the grassy knoll. Not in the sewer, of course, but I read that there were men in the trees, on the roofs of various buildings and lots of very funny stories. Of course we were responsible for most of them. Keeps the idiot public satisfied and very confused. I have a Soviet report on this that basically says it all. The box first.

GD: I’ll make it big enough to pulverize the building.

RTC: No, Gregory, just enough to drive them crazy. Just like they’ve been driving me up the wall.

GD: I don’t suppose you could hint a little on this?

RTC: Well, it wasn’t the Mafia or the KGB and I can say very clearly that it wasn’t Lee Oswald or the Girl Scouts. Now that’s all for now on that subject.

GD: It’s your call.

RTC: To change the subject, you mentioned Mountbatten1  some time ago. What can you tell me about that?

GD: The name Moran mean anything to you?

RTC: Oh, I think it could. Tell me what you know and I will comment on it.

GD: Moran is not his name but no one ever uses their real name these days. He was, probably still is, Irish-American. His grandfather was hanged by the Brits after the ’16 rising in Dublin and he hates them with a real passion. He was one of your boys who liased with the IRA Provo people. Worked out of our embassy in Dublin as one of those utterly transparent cultural aides. Everyone knows the legal officers are FBI and the USIA people are all CIA so why bother with the name game? Anyway, this Moran got the idea to kill off Lord Mountbatten . Besides the dead grandfather, he had an uncle who lived in Canada and was killed at Dieppe. That was Mountbatten’s grab at fame, you know. They had planned a cross-channel raid on Dieppe but cancelled it. Mountbatten was pathologically ambitious and as empty of brains as a ladle decided to go ahead with the raid anyway. Churchill was out of the country, in Egypt if memory serves, and off they went. Germans knew it was in the wind and the invasion party ran into a German small boat convoy enroute and the game was known. The town was heavily armed and the poor Canadians were slaughtered. Moran hated Mountbatten, who got away with it because he was connected to the royal family. Actually, there’s an interesting story about his family. They were of the house of Hessen-Darmstadt. Same small princely house that produced the present Prince Philip and the last Empress of Russia. One of them, a Prince Alexander, married a Polish Jewess whose father was the chief baker to the King of Poland and because the family did not want the title involved with Jews, they changed their name to Battenberg. And later, that was anglicized to Mountbatten. So far so good?

RTC: You left me way behind, Gregory, but go on.

GD: You can check it out later.

RTC: I will. Prince Philip is a German? I thought he was Greek.

GD: So does everyone else. The Prince Consort was in the Hitler Youth and his brother was in the SS. I have a picture of Phil in a Nazi uniform. But to continue here. Mountbatten had married into the Cassel family. The old man was banker to Edward VII. More Jewish connections again. Anyway, the old man, God, he was almost 80 then, used to summer up in County Sligo on the west coast of Ireland. He had a sail boat docked at Mullaghnmore and one day, Mountbatten took some his family out fishing. I can’t remember the name…oh yes, the Shadow. That was the boat’s name. It was painted green. Anyway, it sailed out into the bay and suddenly blew up. Mountbatten lost his legs and died of blood loss and shock and a few more got killed. The man who did this, who ran the operation, is a friend of mine.

RTC: Moran?

GD: No, an Irish friend who was with the Provos. He was up on the cliff and pushed the button that set off the charge his people planted the night before. Then they all went their separate ways and one of them got caught by a traffic stop. My friend got clean away. A very decent fellow and a good friend. I could be more specific but we don’t need to go into that. So Moran got his revenge and there was a state funeral. I do like the Irish, Robert, but if there were only two of them left alive in the world, they would be sending letter bombs to each other.

RTC: There’s some truth to that, Gregory, but not a lot. We got connected with the IRA people because we wanted to protect a certain oil refinery in Belfast that they had been threatening to blow up. The CIA has many, many friends in business and one of them asked us to be sure they left the project alone. So we supplied them explosives, intelligence and some support in exchange for their neutrality concerning American property in Ireland. It worked out.

GD: But not for Mountbatten, though.

RTC: He was a pompous ass.

GD: But a member of the royal family, Robert! Mostly inbred idiots, as a friend of mine once said, who marry their own cousins and produce children with the intellect of chickens.

RTC: How cruel. But true. And keep me posted on the box, won’t you?

GD: And look for the Kennedy papers. Goodbye for now, Robert and my best to your wife.

 

(Concluded at 4:01 PM CST)

 

1   Lord Louis Mountbattten – June 25,  1900 –  August 27, 1979 Admiral of the Fleet Louis Francis Albert Victor Nicholas George Mountbatten, 1st Earl Mountbatten of Burma KG, In 1979 Mountbatten was assassinated by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA), who planted a bomb in his boat at Mullaghmore, County Sligo in the Republic of Ireland.

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America’s Far Right Gangs supported by the sale of fake Nazi war relics

December 25, 2018

by Chrstian Jürs

Murder is murder, Voltaire once said, and punishable with execution….unless it is carried out in large nubers and to the sound of trumpets.

In the main, fraud, counterfeiting and deceit are certrainly immoral  and very often felonious but in some instances, the essential ludicrous nature of some frauds manages to overcome the gravity.

Such is the case of the enormous industry devoted to the creation, manufacture and sale of faked items of German militaria from the Third Reich period.

Fraud and deceit are certainly not limited to this area and the marketplace in fine art is awash in a sea of swindlers but at least an art forger is not apt to paint a medieval prince wearing a modern baseball hat and standing in front of a McDonalds’ restaurant.

There is an abiding fascination with the trapping of the Third Reich but the number of actual relics is much smaller than a burgeoning demand. Nature abhors a vacuum and if original pieces are no longer available, the vacuum is filled with creations to satisfy the demand.

Not only are legitimate pieces of German militaria copied and marketed, a number of outrageous fantasy pieces have also been created and merchandised like the Reverend Ernie’s Holy Healing Cloths on Christian television stations.

There is an interesting parallel here between the manufacture and sale of Nazi relics and the manufacture or misidentification of relics of the Catholic church.

In the latter we can find the knuckle bones of a pig being passed off as having once been a part of Saint Rosa of Compostella or the ever-popular St. Nicholas. Expert study has proven that the notorious Shroud of Turin is a 13th Century fake and it has been said that there are enough pieces of the True Cross around to build a small hotel

AUCTION HOUSES

Many collectors use the services of auction houses to either sell or purchase militaria. There are positive and negative sides to this practice which we will attempt to explore.

In selling items by auction, the seller can reach a wider and specialized market and can often realize prices higher than he would believe possible. Depending entirely upon the auction house, a considerable period of time can elapse between the time the auction is over and his monies are received. It has been known for auction houses to invest various funds under their control, including monies owed from an auction, in certificates of deposit so as to be able to earn considerable interest on the money of others. When banks do this, it is quite legal but it is not legal for an auction house to do this.

In buying or bidding through a mail auction house, the most obvious problem facing the collector is the originality of the merchandise being offered. There is absolutely no way for any one person or even several persons running an auction house to know exactly what is original or what is fake or what is questionable in every case. This is the reason that customers have an inspection period. Legitimate auction houses make every effort to remove fake or questionable items from their lists while others not only willingly offer fakes but solicit their manufacture.

A reading of the catalogs of the major international art auctions houses will disclose that the firms make no guarantees of authenticity whatsoever, even denying the authenticity of the pictures inside the catalogs! Since the art auction houses wield tremendous influence in the art world, there is no expert alive who would dare to question the authentic of any item auctioned and the auctioneers sell every items strictly “as is” which means that the buyer has no recourse to them in the event that their purchase turns out to be a fake.

One of the best way for someone preparing a book on fakes is to read over the auction catalogs of several of the mail auction houses and look at the photographs. This presupposes knowledge on the part of the reader, however, a knowledge that many beginning collectors do not have.

In various well-informed collecting circles, it is known that certain internationally famed auction houses are an outlet for every fake on the market plus billions of dollars of art stolen during the course of the Second World War, but this information could hardly appear in a published work without the certainty of involved legal action and considerable expense to everyone involved.

Much art stolen by the Germans has been returned to the owners but a far greater amount of relatively unknown pieces was looted by Americans after the war and instead of returning it, most of it was sold through the auction houses for huge profits. A former German intelligence specialist, working with the American CIA, sold millions of dollars of looted art between 1948 and 1956 with a percentage of the profits going to the intelligence agencies, “Special Funding” project.

 

 

Pearl Harbor: A retrospective

Decembet 25, 2018

by Christian Jürs

The Japanese attack on the headquarters of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941 was one of those watershed events which mark the history of all nations.

The facts of the attack have never been in doubt. The ships comprising the Imperial Japanese naval task force are as well known as the ships of the U.S. Navy that were sunk during the raid. The losses in men and material on both sides are a matter of uncontested public record as are the names of the various military and political leaders of both Japan and the United States.

What has been a matter of conjecture from the moment that the last carrier-based Japanese bomber left Hawaii is why did the attack happen and who or what was responsible for the unleashing of a destructive war in the Pacific that killed hundreds of thousands of American, British, Dutch, Australians, New Zealanders, Indians, Burmese and Koreans as well as one and a half million Chinese soldiers and left a similar number of Japanese dead. Not taken into account in most chronicles of the war are the numbers of civilian dead . The Chinese totals are unknown but estimated to be between 700,000 and 10,000,000. The number of Japanese civilians killed in air raids or other war-related casualties were about 953, 000.

In apportioning the guilt of war, it is the victors who write the histories and the losers who are condemned to a generation of silence.

There is no point, and certainly not sufficient space, to chronicle the complete root causes of this war. The actions and attitudes of past generations can be sifted and analyzed, circumstances and happenings viewed from a multitude of different angles and blame or praise apportioned by historians according to their personal opinions or, more often, by the official attitudes of those who command their works.

The 1941 war in the Pacific, like any incident, cannot be dissected with any degree of accuracy without exploring the history, politics and personalities of previous generations and to this prolix roll must be added such factors as economics, demographics and natural resources.

A kaleidoscope is a pleasant toy with which to amuse children but its concept can serve as an example of the extraordinary problems that face historians who wish to explore the avenues of history and to write about them without prejudice.

The mirrored tube of the toy contains bits of colored glass. What can’t be known are what patterns that will form each time the tube is rotated. This is the problem that faces historians. Facts and dates are certainly easily recognized but all of the various factors involved in historical occurrences become blurred and confusing when viewed across the distance of time.

The further the observer is removed from the moment, the more confusing the patterns become because the literature he must consult is blurred with personal opinion, clumsy and inaccurate analysis and the reality that the winners never admit their victory was either unnecessary or accidental.

With this in mind, where is a beginning to be made concerning the great Pacific war? Does one go back to the beginning of the century or the beginning of the millennium?

It may be erudite for a writer to bring forward chapters of ancient history and to spangle his works with his own opinions and psychological insights into the motives and personalities of the leaders of the period but all this does is serve as a vehicle for the writer’s ego and can only entertain but rarely inform.

This study will present a series of overviews which will condense historical background into readable form and devote the balance of the work to a through chronology of the events as well as supportive material that covers the period just prior to the Pearl Harbor attack. Since the end of the war and the death of all the major leaders, more and more valuable records are becoming available to the public. When these are gathered, studied and finally compiled in chronological order, many of the myths, legends and deliberate untruths dissolve to be replaced with as much of the truth as can ever be found concerning a controversial issue.

No one wishes to take the responsibility for deliberately beginning a war that might have had no real reason for its commencement and whose course slaughtered millions of people.

Those in power in the United States when the war broke out cannot have been expected to write memoirs in which they would admit to having instigated such a war. It is far easier to blame the Japanese for launching the bloody conflict with a surprise attack than to suggest that perhaps Japan had been maneuvered into launching the attack.

The supporters of President Franklin Roosevelt have poured out hundreds of books since the end of the war in 1945, not only in praise of the American president’s actions but to place the blame for Pearl Harbor squarely on the expansionism and treachery of Imperial Japan. The basic themes of these essays in justification are Japanese treachery and American innocence.

Roosevelt’s role in the Pearl Harbor attack has been a subject of intense speculation from the very day of the debacle in Hawaii. His opponents, and he had many, claim that he deliberately pushed the Japanese into a war to permit him to fight his arch enemy, Adolf Hitler. His supporters, and they are equally legion, have repeatedly, often and at length denied this thesis but as their ranks thin and as more and more important material becomes available, their defenses have been seriously breached.

In this protracted debate, several valid points have been brought out by Roosevelt supporters that ought to be carefully considered. The most important point is concerned with U.S. military intelligence achievements and mainly deals with the interception and decoding of secret Japanese radio messages. Historians agree that the Japanese diplomatic code, called “Purple” after the color of their diplomatic code book, was broken by military intelligence and consequently, all high-level diplomatic messages between the Japanese Foreign office in Tokyo and Japanese diplomats stationed throughout the world were being decrypted and read almost as soon as U.S. intelligence intercepted them.

The question of the Japanese Army and Navy operational codes is an entirely different matter. The American establishment and its in-house historians have firmly denied for a half-century these military codes were broken until the end of the Pacific war in 1945.

While all of the diplomatic “Purple” decrypts have been made public in the intervening years, only a few of the coded Japanese naval messages have been released and then only in a highly edited and factually vague form.

Another issue is the timing on the decryption of the Japanese messages and the actual distribution of them to U.S. military and governmental figures in Washington. Highly significant messages are claimed not to have been decoded for four years and a number of messages of a lesser importance have no indication as to whom they were delivered or when.

In general, the official governmental position is that no really significant military messages were seen prior to the attack and therefore, neither the President or his ranking military subordinates could have possibly had any knowledge of a pending attack.

The Japanese task force did not transmit any messages during their foray across the deserted waters of the north Pacific but they did receive a considerable number of transmissions sent to them, in naval code, from the CIC Combined Fleet, Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, and other military officials. A reading of this traffic makes it very clear indeed that an attack against Pearl Harbor was in train and for this reason, admission of the existence and knowledge of these transmissions by political and military figures in the U.S. has been very strongly, and officially, denied in the intervening years.

The argument has been well made, specifically by Roberta Wohlstetter in her 1961 book, ‘Pearl Harbor, Warning and Decision’, that so many Japanese coded messages were intercepted that it was extremely difficult for American intelligence agency personnel to winnow the wheat from the chaff. In retrospect, historians have stated, a Japanese attack was certainly in the offing but the direction of this attack was lost in the muddle of complex and difficult-to-translate messages.

One of the areas of great interest to historians has been the possible motivation for Roosevelt’s increasing pressure on the Japanese government, a pressure that culminated in seizure of Japanese assets and an embargo on oil, gas and scrap metal which were vital to maintaining the Japanese military machine. Many reasons have been given for the President’s action including a personal prejudice in favor of China. His maternal grandfather had a very lucrative opium smuggling operation with that country in the nineteenth century. Other, more likely scenarios encompass Roosevelt’s personal hatred of Hitler in particular and all Germans in general as well as an overriding determination to remain President of the United States until carried out of the office.

Both of these reasons are valid but in and of themselves do not fully explain the dangerous brinkmanship practiced by Roosevelt in his 1941 dealings with Japan. It is painfully and very clearly evident from reading the intercepts of the Japanese diplomatic messages that Tokyo was not only not interested in pursuing war against the U.S. but was seriously engaged in frantic attempts to defuse a dangerous situation which its accelerating progress caused them great alarm. There is no question that Roosevelt and his top advisors were reading all the Japanese diplomatic intercepts and were made fully aware the ease by which they could establish effective dialog with the Japanese government. All diplomatic approaches by Japan were rebuffed by Roosevelt and Cordell Hull, his Secretary of State. The artificial diplomatic crisis deepened and as the year waned, the probability of Japanese military action was clearly evident at the highest official levels in Washington.

To attempt to ascertain Roosevelt’s actual motives in his attitude towards Japan, it might be instructive to consider the situations in both Europe and the United States in 1941.

War between Germany and Poland had broken out on September 1, 1939 and rapidly escalated when France and Britain declared war on Germany several days later. The German army quickly crushed Poland but Hitler made no effort to attack either France or England, hoping that eventually some kind of a settlement could be made with both countries.

In spite of a number of diplomatic moves, Hitler could achieve nothing with either party although the French certainly were not interested in a reprise of the terrible First World War in which their country was turned into a shell-pocked ocean of mud and destruction.

In 1940, the British under their new Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, decided to attack neutral Norway and by doing so, deprive Germany of Swedish iron ore shipments that came by sea along the Norwegian coast from northern Sweden. Hitler noted that the British had violated Norwegian neutrality on February 16 when Royal Navy destroyers entered Norwegian territorial waters and attacked the German tanker Altmark despite the protests of Norwegian naval units. The British now began to plan the invasion of Norway and this information came to German intelligence from a neutral diplomat in London.

This knowledge propelled Hitler into immediate action and German troops struck preemptively into Norway and Denmark on March 1. With an improvement in the weather, the Wehrmacht launched an attack on the western front on May 10 and by June 21, had forced the French to surrender and had driven the defeated British out of Europe

During this period, Roosevelt could not intervene in the conflict because the law constrained him from declaring war without a mandate from Congress and, given the public American sentiment then prevailing, this would never be forthcoming.

Exactly when Roosevelt determined to attack Hitler is not known but there is a considerable body of evidence that his hatred of the German leader stemmed from a speech Hitler gave to his Reichstag on April 28, 1939. This speech, which was a masterpiece of sarcasm, was given in response to an address Roosevelt had made to Hitler a week earlier in which he demanded the German leader give assurances that he would not invade such countries as Ireland and Palestine. As Roosevelt had little actual knowledge of European politics, Hitler was able to very effectively demolish the American president’s arguments. Roosevelt could not stand any kind of criticism from any source and his response to Hitler’s speech was fury and a determination to attack Hitler at the first opportunity.

On June 22, 1941, Hitler launched a massive attack against the Soviet Union, at the time his ally. Many reasons have been given for this attack but a careful study of German and Soviet records indicates that Hitler viewed this campaign solely as a preemptive strike against a country which was rapidly preparing to attack him first.

Since the beginning of his presidency, Roosevelt had actively sought the support of the well-organized Communist party in the United States. This group was influential in certain industrial areas and especially in New York State whose Governor Roosevelt had once been. There is no question that the Communist support was vital in Roosevelt’s election and would continue to be vital in maintaining him in the White House. A man of almost no ideological understanding, Roosevelt was an extremely shrewd domestic politician and he realized the active support of the radical left was vital to his survival in office. His administrations were rapidly filled with a significantly large number of members of the left and Roosevelt went to great lengths to support their aims. The Hitler-Stalin pact in 1939 came as a great shock to American Communists but when Hitler invaded Stalin’s Russia in June of 1941, the Soviet dictator once again resumed his place as the champion of the workers and peasants and a very sought-after ally of Roosevelt and his administration.

The swift advances of the German Army and the virtual collapse of the Soviet Army became a source of great concern to Roosevelt. The large losses in territory and manpower suffered by the Soviets convinced many in Washington that the complete disintegration of the Soviet government was only weeks away. This caused great consternation in both London and Washington because Stalin was the last viable enemy of Hitler. England was militarily wrecked and could not launch a meaningful attack against Germany and the neutral U.S. could do nothing to assist Stalin but give him as much financial support as they could.

If, as it appeared in the autumn of 1941, Russia could collapse, the last major hope for the containment and destruction of Hitler and his country would be gone.

The point of balance now shifted from European Russia to the Far East.

When the leading edge of the German Army was before Moscow, the capital was subject to heavy air raids by the Luftwaffe, and the bulk of the Soviet government and the diplomatic corps had fled. What was left of the decimated Soviet Red Army was engaged in a protracted death struggle for the capital.

There was a very acute possibility the Japanese, chronic enemies of Russia and officially allied with Germany, would take advantage of Stalin’s major preoccupation with the siege of his capital and fall onto his rear, invading the eastern province of Siberia. This area was extraordinarily difficult to supply as the Czar’s generals discovered in 1904. The hostility between Japan and Russia which erupted in that year and the Russo-Japanese war ended in a defeat for Russia and Japan’s elevation to the status of a world power. The animosity between the two countries never abated and in July of 1938, an expansionist Japan, engaged in a protracted and very savage war with the provincial warlords of China, turned its attentions towards Russia and attempted to seize land inside the Soviet Union at Chankufeng near the vital Soviet naval base of Vladivostok.

The Soviets counterattacked and drove the  Japanese back into their own territory. Undaunted by their defeat, Japan attacked the Soviets again in May of 1939 and for four months a series of battles raged back and forth. Eventually, in late August of that year, Soviet General Zhukov launched a powerful attack against the  invader with nine divisions and 600 tanks. The Japanese were severely beaten; suffering the loss of 18,000 men and considerable aircraft.

Following this humiliating defeat, there was a strong movement in the Japanese high command to prepare for war against the Soviet Union. This project was called the Strike North plan and their plans for an attack on Vladivostok were shown to Hitler by General Baron Oshima, Japan’s pro-German ambassador as early as March, 1941. Hitler discussed the probability of this attack with members of his military staff throughout the balance of the year.

The major problem facing Roosevelt then is evident. Stalin was the linchpin of the Roosevelt-Churchill military policy. If Stalin fell, Hitler was certain to destroy Russia’s capacity to remain in the war and this could not be allowed to happen. Roosevelt was able to give funds to Stalin but could send no supplies or weapons of war to the dictator without the approval of Congress. If Japan decided to move against Stalin’s eastern territories, he would then be fighting a two-front war and without any question, would be quickly defeated.

In autumn of 1941, therefore, Roosevelt’s most urgent task was to prevent Japan from launching any military actions against Russia. As the President was well aware, there was another military faction in Japan that wished to expand in a southern direction and secure the natural resources of Southeastern Asia. This faction was called the Strike South Force and their aims were far more acceptable to Roosevelt than their rivals’ one.

By applying both diplomatic and economic pressure against Japan, Roosevelt obviously hoped to distract the Japanese from embarking on a Russian adventure and to encourage them to move, if move they did, in the opposite and far more acceptable direction. Roosevelt was safe enough in embracing this southern concept because the U.S. had very little invested in the Far East with the exception of a few mid-Pacific islands and the Philippines which, in any case, were slated for independence in 1948.

The British, on the other hand, had a great deal of capital invested in the same area so Churchill was equally fearful of the southern plan of the Japanese. By 1941, however, Britain had been reduced to the level of a client state of America.

Although professing great sympathy for Churchill’s war, Roosevelt had no problem whatsoever in securing the most advantageous financial position he could when England found it must replenish its military equipment losses. When the British Expeditionary Force had fled France in 1940, they had to abandon all of their heavy equipment, vehicles, artillery and small arms on the beaches of Dunkirk.

Roosevelt was most pleased to resupply the British Army…at a price. He sold them obsolete American rifles, equipment, and outdated ammunition and sent them on trade fifty destroyers dating back 30 years and in deplorable repair. In return for this largesse, Churchill had to pay in gold, paper money not being wanted, and to find the gold, he had to empty the treasury and the banks of England. When the gold had all vanished into the U.S. Fort Knox repository, Roosevelt then demanded, and got, the surrender of all British assets and business holdings in the United States and Canada. These his Treasury Department consistently undervalued and these minimal values were credited to the account of the British government for arms purchases.

The assets were later resold by the government to private parties at a considerable profit. This Yankee trading also extended to other, similar spheres when in April of 1941,  Roosevelt had the Treasury Department freeze the assets of the Swiss bank branches in the United States on the flimsy grounds that German funds might be involved. What was actually involved were $230 million in Jewish refugee funds, all but $500 thousand of which were kept by the U.S. government.

When the possibility of a Japanese invasion of British territories arose, Churchill expressed great alarm to Roosevelt but the American President then held all the cards and brushed aside the Prime Minister’s concerns with vague promises that America would regain any lost territory at the conclusion of what Roosevelt was certain would be a successful war.

In actuality, Roosevelt was a bitter opponent of the colonial system and expressed to his inner circle that he had no intentions of returning any former colony to its ante bellum masters.

American pressure on Japan to prevent any attack on Russia is certainly the simplest answer to the complex welter of issues raised in the postwar years concerning the outbreak of war in the Pacific. In reality, Roosevelt was completely successful in his goal of distracting the Japanese military but the price the American public eventually paid was enormous.

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